The unthinkable has happened. With one tragic ruling by a group of people I refuse to honor anymore because they are obviously misguided and biased, women’s rights have taken a giant step backward with the repeal of Roe vs Wade.
This is not about babies. If it were about babies, all you pro life people would be supporting women who are forced to carry a baby to term. You would be showing up to adopt or foster kids who were born into places where the people inhabiting those places simply had no means to care for a baby. If you were truly pro life, you would be supporting all of life. But the fact is that this is more about controlling women then it is about anything else. And if you are a woman who has bought into the patriarchy that says women are second class citizens, shame on you. I’m calling you out. If you support this insanity, grow a pair and put your money where your mouth is and provide some support to those babies after they are born.
I’d like to be able to spout off some positive thinking spiritual stuff about things being all good all the time but I am not there yet. I’m angry. I’m sad. I’m afraid for my personal well being because I live in an area that is filled with magas. And I won’t be silent. I’m fighting back.
I’m fighting back with spreading the word about what this is really about.
I’m fighting back with offering to tithe 10% of my fee for wedding officiant services to human rights organizations. If you support human rights. If you don’t and I find out about it, I’m either going to refuse your business or charge you more. Much more.
I’m fighting back by making my home a sanctuary. Yep, if you need medical care, I will support you and give you a place to stay while you get the care you need.
I’m using my voice and I won’t stop using it.
I’m sure I will find other ways to fight back.
Already there are companies that are saying they will pay for travel fees for employees who need to go out of state to get the proper medical care. Patronize these companies. Don’t patronize the ones that support fascism.
I support human rights. This means I support a woman’s right to choose. I support marriage between two people who love one another, no matter their gender. I support true equality for all people: all colors, all cultures, all races. Except for you who would take away my rights and the rights of others simply because of their color or gender or culture. You’re on your own.
I had an AHA moment this morning. Every day I read something spiritual. Many days it is something by Ernest Holmes but I also read a ton of other authors as well. I read for my own enjoyment and for my own growth, but I also read with an eye towards topics for podcast episodes or blogs. Sometimes I get an idea I want to develop, but sometimes there simply isn’t enough there to talk about for 20 minutes in a podcast, or to write the length of a blog post. This morning I had one of those ideas, and then it occurred to me, “wait a minute! Why not put this into that daily reader you’ve been writing off and on for YEARS!” Duh. So this morning for the first time in I don’t know how long, I made an entry into the daily reader I am writing. By the way, in my own inimitable style, the working title of this is “Go on every ride you can!” Or, alternatively, “Chase all the balls you can!” The second refers to how dogs are always up for play, that’s what we should strive for, in my opinion. And along with that striving comes changing our definition of play. Anyway, here is what I wrote today:
‘ “The Day of Judgment” occurs every day, in self-evaluation.” Linda Martella-Whitsett, “Divine Audacity”
“There is nothing in the Universe that can hinder your upward climb, your increased awareness of Oneness with God . . . unless you decide to stop climbing.” Ernest Holmes, How to Change your Life
I believe that the Bible was meant to be interpreted metaphorically, because that was the way they taught in the time during which the Bible was written. If this is true, then judgement day is every day for us. It is a day when we must go within and do the spiritual practice of self-awareness. We must evaluate with discernment what is ours and what is not. Judgement means something different in this case. It doesn’t mean we’ve done something wrong, bad or shameful. Never that. Judgment is defined as the ability to make a decision or form an opinion objectively and wisely. So we look at ourselves and if we must form an opinion, we do so with wisdom, compassion and discernment. The time for “shoulding” on ourselves is over. No, self evaluation with an eye towards ever more opening up to the new in us that wants to be born. I believe that we are here on this earth to become more and more godlike, to more fully and completely embody qualities of spirit. So each day becomes a quest, not to shame ourselves in judgment over an issue or a behavior or a thought. But instead to ask ourselves, what new wants to be born in me right here and right now? Whatever it is that is happening or has happened, it is always an invitation to step into something greater. Self evaluation is the pathway into that something greater. When we remember who and what we truly are, one with the One, connected in deep and profound ways with Spirit, and here to be more and more spirit-like, then judgment no longer is a negative thing. Instead it is simply a tool for us to use to be more of that which we are meant to be.
Affirmation: Today I evaluate myself with loving discernment as a way to increase my awareness of my Oneness with Spirit
The thought that we might go back to what it was like when I was a kid terrifies me. Those were definitely NOT the good old days. I remember those days. I got raped when I was 12. Who told me that it was good I was learning about such things now, because I was still trainable. I was not a human to him, but a tool to be used to give him a false sense of power and superiority. Abortion was still illegal, as was birth control. Had that asshole monster of a man impregnated me, I would have had no choice but to carry that baby to term. Or find some back woods unsafe and unscrupulous hack to help me out, risking my own life in the process. Because to bring a child into my world would not have been good. My world was filled with confusion, violence and neglect. My mom couldn’t care for me and my dad was absent. I cared for myself by numbing and becoming very very fierce. There was no way I could have cared for a child. A few years later, birth control became legal and I took a big sigh of relief and went on birth control. Because even at a young age I knew that bringing a child into my world would not have been a good thing. My views of sexuality were highly distorted because no one talked about it except us kids, and those untruths were couched in the rhetoric of the day: girls who weren’t virgins were sluts and guys who slept around were studs. Vaginas were bad and penises were good. Sigh. And the folks crying out for a reversal of Roe vs Wade would want a return to that. To those days where sex is not talked about in intelligent and truthful ways, rape is not reported because it was all the women’s fault for dressing provocatively, where women are not supposed to enjoy sex, and where they are not in charge of their own lives nor their own bodies. Honestly, I fear that once we begin that backwards slide, all progress we have made towards true equality will stop and then get reversed. Women will no longer be able to own property in their own name, nor vote. It will once again become legal for a husband to rape his wife. I remember meeting a guy and beginning to date him, much later in life. He brought me home to meet his mom. Who proceeded to tell me I needed to sit like a lady and instruct me just how that looked. Along with thinly veiled comments about the proper ways to dress to please a man but not be TOO provocative. The first time I went to bed with this guy, he told me I wasn’t supposed to enjoy sex. That was the last time I went to bed with him. That’s where we were folks. In the 1960s and 1970s! That wasn’t that long ago. It was in my lifetime. Today I enjoy a certain amount of freedom but still, as woman, I have to show up in the world differently than men do. Men are not taught to be aware of their surroundings and of potential threats. Men are not taught to carry their keys handy to use as a weapon if needed. Men are not taught to stay out of dark deserted places at night. Women are taught that. Because we are still seen as prey by many men. Do not allow us to go backwards. As the years progressed, looking back I can see evidence of where I was not taken seriously simply because I was a woman. I remember talking with someone of male persuasion whom I thought was a friend, about my ministerial school adventures and how happy I was to be a minister and what I was going to do with my ministry. This man literally got a glazed look in his eye, said “how nice for you” with insincerity dripping from his voice, and walked away. It was ok for me to be a photographer, but not a minister in his eyes. Just a few years later I found out why: born again Christian being taught that women can only be and do certain things. Good thing I had a mom who repeatedly told me that I should never let anyone tell me what I could and could not do simply because of my gender. Much later, I had a woman tell me I was cute in my ministerial robes. I asked her if she would tell her catholic priest he was cute in his robes. She got offended, claimed she knew about misogyny because she worked in a male dominated field. Ok, so it’s all right to be a woman cop but a woman minister is “cute?” Not taken seriously. Again. By a woman. In some ways we haven’t come as far as I’d like to believe. But make no mistake, this movement with reversing Roe vs Wade is not about babies. It’s about taking a step backwards into time when women were second class citizens, not worthy nor able to make and follow through on their own decisions. Then will follow the reversals of other laws enacted to ensure social justice. Affecting people of color, gays, transgender, and anyone else who dares to stand in their own truth and show up differently than the status quo. Historically, before the time of Jesus, women were strong. They were leaders. Along came Jesus. Who did not teach to subjugate women. No, he taught to treat everyone with compassion and lack of judgement. But then men took his teachings and distorted them to satisfy their own insecurities. They wrote their distorted opinions down in the Bible and refused to allow any women’s writings to be included. What they wrote is a poor example of a beautiful teaching, and what they wrote is what is driving this movement today. A movement by insecure frightened immature misogynistic males who are accompanied by brainwashed women, to squash down any attempts at equality, the things we say this country was founded upon. There are folks who think that the leak of the opinion about reversing Roe vs Wade was a manipulative move by democrats to stir people like me up and get out the vote. I choose to think the leak was done by a person who, like me, sees the devastating results a reversal would engender and wanted the public to know what was happening behind the scenes. Ironically, I have traditionally voted Republican on every issue except the social justice ones. I believe in less government. I believe in less legislation. I believe in being fiscally conservative. But I also believe in equality. For all. For myself, I would love not to feel threatened by some guy driving a Ram pickup wearing a maga hat flying a confederate flag. But I do. Very much so. Because I know that guy would just love to knock me down a few notches. I saw a mixed race couple yesterday at a stop light with a baby carriage. In my little neighboring town. My first thought was that they were very brave to be out in public in this racist community. Oh, we aren’t openly racist here. That would be wrong. Mostly just ignorant, with a few scattered true racists thrown in the stir the pot. I’m doing what I can in that area. Slowly but compassionately attempting to educate folks. I said a little prayer for that mixed race couple. And then I wanted to thank them for being here, because I suspect what they have to put up with on a daily basis is not fun. Probably not outright violence. But covert violence. Places they cannot go, places where they know they are not welcome. I have not invited any of my black friends to come visit because I do not want them to feel uncomfortable when they see all the confederate flags flying in my neighborhood and on the back of those aforementioned ram pickups. When my husband and I bought this place, I told him if we were to fly a flag at all, it would be a rainbow flag. He told me we could do that if I wanted to be subjected to attacks by my neighbors. In some ways he was much wiser than me. As we began to have service people come over to fix things for us, my husband would deal with them. And after they left, he would tell me, “wow, that guy is really racist and misogynistic.” Good thing he dealt with them not me. After my husband died, I had to find all new service people because I guess once he was gone I began to be fair game for being hit on. In rude and inappropriate ways. Or mansplained to. Then I find out other single women in this area experienced the same thing from the same people. So yeah, I’m angry. And I feel powerless. I have never been the type to go to protests. I vote. I sign petitions. I use my platform to voice my concerns. I talk one on one with people. I try to teach folks to communicate in healthy ways, and to find common ground upon which to begin a discuss, not a series of accusations and name calling and bullying. Unfortunately name calling and bullying is where most people are at right now. I have a lot of work to do. If you have read this entire thing, I thank you. I needed to say it. I have no grand illusions here. I know I won’t be changing anyone’s mind with this. But perhaps the next time you want to think that the leak of the opinion of reversing Roe vs Wade is some sort of giant conspiracy to manipulate things, perhaps you might just want to consider that it is a sincere effort to not take our country back to where we were, because it definitely wasn’t great.
I just wanted to give you all a report about what I’ve been doing in my ministry over here in what I call the Back 40. This is exciting stuff, because what I’m doing now is what I always wanted for this thing called being a minister.
I never wanted to be a traditional minister. You know, one with a full time pulpit and all the stuff that goes along with that. When I began grad school/seminary, I only knew what I didn’t want. It took a while for things to become clear for me.
By the way, if you are seeking clarity on something, the way to go about it is to not rush it, to allow what wants to percolate in you just be, no matter how outlandish it may seem. If you are thinking about it, it means there are possibilities there and nothing is impossible.
Anyway, I began to get clarity that what I really wanted to do was teach, speak, create and do workshops and retreats.
And soon the ways to accomplish that began to show up. I began getting invitations to speak at Centers for Spiritual Living and at Unity Churches. Some also requested workshops. I began doing my own retreats and workshops and offering things online. The online piece was necessary because living in the Back 40 means I needed to reach beyond the physical. There was also the pandemic to consider and sheltering in place opened up a whole new world for folks to become willing to participate in my online offerings.
To make a long story short, here is what it looks like today:
I have a focus ministry called Fearlessly Feral Living. A focus ministry is a rather unique thing, and to my knowledge is only done with Centers for Spiritual Living, AKA CSL. In CSL land, we have Centers, Teaching Chapters and Focus Ministries. Centers are basically churches. Teaching Chapters teach. Focus Ministries have a focus in their teaching. Some focus on carrying the message of Science of Mind into prisons. That’s a pretty good example. My focus is to facilitate successful transitions. What that means is that we can either benefit and thrive from life’s changes and losses, or not. I choose to benefit and thrive. So I teach how to do that.
I have a podcast, also called Fearlessly Feral Living. It’s fun! You can listen through Apple, Buzzsprout, or on Google Podcasts. I’m also on Spotify.
I also serve as an Interim Minister for CSL. This means I go into Centers that have lost their permanent minister and temporarily serve. My main function as Interim is to be a bridge between loss and successful transition, with the ultimate goal of attracting their new permanent senior minister. And to do this, I get to do all the things I love doing: work with people one on one and in community, do workshops and retreats, speak, teach.
So that’s my ministry in a nutshell. And of course I’m still creating memes! Cuz I love doing them! So I will close with one of my latest memes. I hope you enjoy it, feel free to share it and use it.
WHEW! what a time we are living in right?!?!?! I don't know about you but with warmer weather and spring time and things beginning to open up, I am more than ready to resume doing things like workshops and retreats. I've been getting out and about lately and I can't tell you how much it has improved my mood and attitude!
And it has felt so good that I decided to team up with my friend Melinda at EquusInsight to offer you a feel good experience too! So we are offering the popular ICK to JOY retreat for you! I've done this retreat before with Melinda and we have discovered that our unique blend of inner and outer really works to provide a complete experience. AND, Melinda now has the edition of Fran, who is an EAGALA (Equine Assisted Growth and Learning) coach.
Between the three of us we have cooked up a grand day for you! We will begin the day with me, using tools of meditation and inner exploration to allow you to safely connect with both your ICK and your JOY! After connecting, I will present you with techniques to use to move through those ICK feelings and acknowledge, then release them, replacing them with JOY feelings. Then you will relocate out to be with the equine herd to cement what you learned. We will have snacks and beverages available for you, and we've decided to do a potluck lunch since potluck provides additional opportunities for community with your fellow retreat attendees.
Cost is $145 for one person, and you can register by clicking the store link at the top of this page. Or, if you want to bring a friend, go to my PayPal site and register the both of you for $250. That is a savings of $40!
Once you register we will be sending you all the information you need to have a spectacular day!
Spring is my favorite season. The promise of new life. Little green things popping up their heads after a long rest, to greet the world. This year spring seems particularly poignant and somewhat fragile to me. It’s been an eventful year. I have fully embraced sheltering in place, it was not difficult for me to do so. Perhaps because for the first part of it I was staying at home to care for my dying husband. And for the last part of it I was staying at home and doing my inner grief work and learning what it means to be a widow. And much of what that involves is re-creation in my life. Who do I wish to be? The truth is I have been single for much longer than I have been in relationship, but there is something different about widowhood. Other widows I have spoken with talk about the difficulties, and the gifts, of living alone after cohabitating with another person for 20, 30 and 40 years. I do not have that experience. My husband and I were only married for a little less than two years. Together in romantic relationship for a little more than 3 years. Even though we had known each other for 40 years. So learning how to live alone was simply a return to what passes for normal for me. And shelter in place simply provided an opportunity to fully sink into a grief process, which I believe is necessary in order to successfully rejoin life. I strive for balance in all my affairs. Having been a black and white, all or nothing sort of person for so much of my life, I’ve learned that such extremes rarely serve me well. So during shelter in place, I did go out to perform weddings. Most of these were outdoors, and all of them involved following the guidelines for COVID: masking up, staying six feet away and frequent use of sanitizer. And now, here we are. Opening up. In so many ways! I am beginning to contemplate travel and doing more things in person. I’ve had one vaccine, the second will happen later this month. I am also contemplating re-creation. After 8 years of losses and moves and changes, I have experienced no small amount of Post Traumatic Stress. Now that I am settled in to what emerged from all that upheaval. And beginning to see signs of lessening of the anxiety, the need for more resting time, the need to just be and stop doing. I am revisiting some things I began before the full stop of dealing with a sick and dying husband. I am feeling excitement. It is cautious excitement at this point, but it is still excitement. And collectively, this nation has been opening up. As more and more people get vaccinated, shelter in place restrictions begin to ease. As we have a new government once again fully functioning with an emotionally healthy leader, the country is beginning to get back on track. I still experience deep sadness and dismay at the racism and misogyny that came out of the shadows to gloat during the previous administration. While at the same time I am grateful that they have come out of those shadows. Because only light can heal the darkness of generations of racism and misogyny. So I am feeling the consciousness of renewed hope that is spreading. It has occurred to me that we had a virus take over during one of the darkest times in our country. That is some strong metaphorical significance right there. Now we have new hope and new light taking over both the darkness and the virus. New life. And so I fully and completely embrace spring and all that it brings. I appreciate the metaphor of new life in all areas of my life and in the life of this country.
And so ends another month. As we move closer to the end of 2020, I sense a new hope, a new light, coming into the consciousness of the human race. I see evidence of this everywhere: some people are putting up their Christmas decorations early; others are speaking positively about the future. Kindness is returning, compassion is being renewed. There is a thing called consciousness, and it refers to our entire being: our beliefs, values, attitudes, which lead to our words and actions. The thing about consciousness is that it is much bigger than you or I. Because we are all connected, there is a group consciousness. A human race consciousness. And everything begins within. As within, so without. What we think about expands. All action is born in thought. And this is true on an individual level as well as on a group level. This past year, I’ve gone into hiding. The consciousness I saw emerged, I will confess, frightened me in ways I never thought I could fear again. I became greatly disillusioned with my fellow human beings. My trust in the basic goodness of humanity was damaged. Yes, I lost faith and I lost hope. And I know that others felt the same. In this way we succumbed to the group consciousness. But with this new hope and this new light, together we can renew our faith, enlarge our hope, and move once again into knowing that love is stronger than hatred. Some of you have joined me in November for an annual spiritual practice of deepened gratitude, listing 10 different things each day for which we are grateful. I have heard from some of you, who have reported that it was difficult to come up with 300 things for which to be grateful. Some of you have reported difficulty in being grateful for the things that truly matter, those inner things like faith and compassion and trust and hope. I too experienced this difficulty. I’ve never experienced this kind of difficulty with my gratitude practice, and I’ve been doing this annual practice for decades. Part of it is the natural process of grief that comes with loss. The truth is there has been much loss for me in the last seven years. But most of my own difficulty with the practice came from my own loss of trust in my fellow humans to do the loving compassionate thing. I’ve persevered. I’ve persisted. I know enough to know that consistency and persistence in spiritual practice always pays off. It is like one of my old meditation teachers told me once: we sit, no matter what. So I persisted, no matter what. And slowly, surely, my own consciousness is once again morphing back into something I can live with. And greater. Because now I’ve seen things. I’ve witnessed with horror what my fellow humans are capable of. So my new consciousness, my new faith and trust and hope and love and compassion that is emerging is greater than ever. I’m still cautious. Maybe I’m not only grieving the loss of my husband and all the other physical losses, but also the loss of a certain sort of innocence. What I know is that the new consciousness that is being born in me will result in a new person. A wiser one. A more peaceful one. A more compassionate one. And because we are all connected, I know that this new consciousness is also being born in you, and in our neighbors. For Christians, this is the beginning of Advent, a time of joyous expectation. In the New Thought world, this is, or can be, also a time of joyous expectation. A time to expect a return to compassion, because we are compassionate ourselves. A time to return to trust because we ourselves are trustworthy. A time to return to unconditional love, because we love ourselves that way. A time to once again simply know that all is well and all will continue to be well. Because of the group consciousness, if enough of us do this thing, this changing of our own consciousness, together we will change the consciousness of the human race. So this December, my spiritual practice will move from a daily gratitude list to daily affirmation of love, trust, hope, faith, compassion and joy. Won’t you join me? _____________________________________
November closed out with 10 weddings, two of which included photography. One wedding cancelled due the bride getting COVID. December brings with it 7 weddings, 3 of which include photography, and a return to more ministerial work: I will be giving one talk in December, and opening negotiations for my next Interim Ministry assignment, to begin sometime in early 2021. The end of a sabbatical for me. You can expect podcasts to resume as well.
Well! It has certainly been a journey! Since I last posted my husband made his transition. Since then I’ve been doing that thing called grieving. Grieving is an interesting thing. It must be done. Actually I think a better way of putting it is that it must be allowed. If one doesn’t fully allow the grieving process, icky things happen. I am a firm believer in living a life of joy rather that a life of ICK, so I took a deep dive into the grieving process.
I let myself cry, willy nilly. Except when I had to go to work. Then I had to shelve those tears for a while.
I let myself nap, almost every day.
I let myself isolate.
And all the while I was allowing these things, I was doing some things too.
Moving my husband’s stuff from the house to the garage to the travel trailer. Somehow, when he first went, it seemed important to me to get his stuff out of the house. Sort of a cleansing ritual I guess. Then I had to move the stuff out of the garage to make room to organize things in there, and to make room for the sale of his boot shop. Yes, my husband had a boot shop. He was quite talented and made beautiful boots.
Along with mountains of paperwork, and moving and selling and donating my husband’s stuff, there was stuff going in my life as well. While Floyd was still in home hospice, and on a day when a nurse was here as well as someone delivering the hospital bed, as well as me trying to clean up the latest mess in Floyd’s bathroom, I get a call from my publisher. I did not take the call that day. But in a process that had begun way before Floyd entered hospice, they had called to tell me my book was ready for review, the last step before publication. In addition, I had begun doing a podcast. Plus my little wedding business wasn’t so little. I specialize in elopements. And because of COVID forcing cancellation of a zillion big weddings, all of a sudden my phone is ringing off the hook with couples wanting to elope. They just wanted to get married. In October I officiated 21 weddings. That’s a lot of weddings for a grieving widow. In addition, retirement choices were presented. I had already retired from my photography business but now I was faced with additional choices. I’m still deciding about some of those but the short story is that I’m letting go a quite a few things to leave room for quiet time and ministry.
In recovery there is a saying: “don’t make any major decisions in your first year of recovery.” I’ve taken that and adopted it to: “don’t make any major decisions in your first year of widowhood.” So many of my choices are up in the air but I’ve noticed a few things.
In the stillness I’ve deepened my love affair with myself. And become more willing than ever to honor decisions based on my values. Thanksgiving is coming up. And COVID is still with us. And the Nevada governor has asked us to voluntarily stay home and not do social gatherings. I am honoring that. Even though Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday of the year, because it coincides with my recovery birthday. This year, the day after Thanksgiving, I will celebrate 34 years of good, solid, happy joyous and free recovery from alcoholism and drug addiction. I’ll be sharing my birthday, via Zoom, at a 12 step meeting that morning. That will be the extent of my socializing for both thanksgiving and my recovery birthday. Quite a change from previous years but I’m welcoming it. I plan to cook a turkey, just like I always do. It will just be a smaller one, with fewer fixings. I plan to, as is my tradition, get my Christmas tree up the day after Thanksgiving, along with making turkey soup and eating turkey sandwiches.
Soon I will resume podcasting my Fearlessly Feral podcast. I’m almost there, I can feel it. Soon I will take on another Interim Ministry assignment. I’m excited about that. Soon I may even start another book. In the meantime I’m just going to sit back and enjoy another stretch of quiet time.
I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving. Oh, if you wish to purchase my latest book, it is currently available in print version only (e-version coming soon) from:
Life is certainly a rich tapestry isn’t it? At least it is for me. I’ve got some real stuff going on, both personally and of course, at a global level. At the global level, I am feeling the angst, the dismay, the anguish and the anger of my fellow human beings. I vacillate between wanting to go out in the world and do things, and realizing I can only do so much. Every day for me I combat anger the likes of which I have not experienced since before getting sober, which has been over 33 years. I combat spontaneous tears. For the first time in over 33 years, I have a fear of people. Dealing with this is a daily event, every day I must renew my faith. I know what it feels like to live a fear free life, and quite frankly it is simply unacceptable to be experiencing a return of this kind of fear. I know what I must do to replace that fear with faith; this is the ultimate in self care. Not getting manicures and massages, although a massage is currently on my short term list of things to do. But on this journey, I must remember that these kinds of feelings, the fear, the anger, the grief, are normal given what is happening, even if they are not fun. I must honor them, but not nourish them. Instead, I must take a deeper dive into self care than I ever have before. This means talking regularly to the person I have chosen to be my counselor to guide me through this uncharted territory. This means accepting offers of help. It means loving the casseroles that people are bringing over. That one is not difficult to do. This means allowing loving people into my life, and eliminating hateful and unkind and ignorant people from it. I’ve been doing a lot of rearranging on my Facebook page lately. It means not feeling guilty that I simply do not have it in me at the moment to do more out in the world. It means changing my thinking on a daily basis, using the spiritual practices of gratitude and affirmative prayer as I never have before. I’ve been revisiting my book collection, and am rereading some old favorites that have always nourished me. Yesterday I thanked one of Floyd’s doctors for quickly responding to a request we had made. She told me not to thank her and I burst into tears. Why would I not thank her? I like this doc. Others, not so much, but this one, I like. I text her, she calls back within a half hour and our request is honored with one phone call. She is Hindu, and has an approach to things that is part science and part spiritual, and I really identify with that. She honors Floyd’s decisions regarding his medical care, and I love that. Every day is a wild ride of witnessing people doing stupid shit and saying the most outlandish things. Yesterday I heard a man proclaim, very loudly, that his daddy beat him regularly, sometimes with a belt and sometimes without one, and that he had learned respect because of it, and he was respectful now because of it. Despite the fact that he was loudly proclaiming his respect in a very disrespectful way. Sigh. My anger came back. The old me would have taken him on and told him to shut up in a physical way. But that was my old life and this is my new life. I do things differently now. And I’m 65 years old and all of 5 feet tall. I know my limits, and I also know that to engage in such dark behavior leads only to more dark behavior. I inwardly acknowledged my anger and simply left the area. Sometimes I bless those ignorant idiots. But mostly I’m beyond even that now. I leave them to their misery and move on. The fact that almost daily there are opportunities to make a choice like that is a very good indicator of what is happening in society right now. Then I did a wedding. A sacred and beautiful thing, and I was left with the feelings of wonder and joy and gratitude that I get to participate in such important events in people’s lives. And that horrible angry man was left behind to his own devices while I moved on to participate in and help create more beauty in life. Every day I participate in wonderful new beginnings: weddings are off the charts this year. And I’ve taken to asking each of my wedding couples, “why now?” And their response is always the same, no matter what the circumstances are, “it’s time.” I believe that people want certainty in a very uncertain world, and for these couple, getting married is the way to achieve it. Tomorrow I facilitate the last of a month long class I’ve been teaching, called “The Art of Uncertainty.” Yes, there is an art to it. And a beauty, and when we open up to uncertainty, we experience things we would never have experienced otherwise. But I’m left thinking if there is such a thing as too much uncertainty? Who knows? What I know right now is that this time is populated with a roller coaster ride of emotions. Daily I experience the kind of anger I haven’t experienced in a very long time. Daily I cry. Daily I experience joy and gratitude and remember the peace that comes from faith and loving kindness. Daily I even experience some joy. Roller coaster. I used to like those when I was a kid. Go figure. What I know is that with the last class tomorrow, it will be the last class I teach for at least a few months. What I know is that my interim ministry assignment will end on August 31, and I will not be accepting a new one for at least a few months. What I know is that I need to spend some time at home with my dying husband. People are beginning to refer to me as the care giver. I hate that name. And yet, because of what I do for a living, I know the important role that care givers play, and I know how important self care is for a care giver. So I will continue on this self care journey. I once created a workshop on self care. I presented it to ministers, who quite often are not the best examples of self care. (This is a huge understatement by the way.) I believe it was a success. One lady showed up and complimented me. She said, “if you had begun talking about manicures and massages I would have been out of here.” No, self care is not about manicures and massages. It is about self love. It is about self compassion. It is about mindfulness. It is about knowing one’s boundaries, and setting them and keeping them. So today I do the ultimate in self care, and I hope you do the same.
One of my favorite things to do in the mornings, after meditating and doing my spiritual study, is to check my Facebook memories feed. It gives me a snap shot of my life in years past. This is very helpful because I don’t remember the past. Not really. I remember it in very general terms, but specifics are gone. I once had a friend tell me this was because I live so much in the moment that once that moment is gone, it is truly gone. I believe this ability is a gift. I work with so many people who remember the past like it was yesterday, and base their current lives on it, which leads to limitation. I much prefer not being able to remember the past, because I can dive into each new experience with childlike vision and very little fear. Except when PTS (I refuse to call it a disorder. There is absolutely nothing disordered about fearful reactions to shit happening) hits. The kicker there is that I still don’t remember much of the past, but my body remembers it, and anxiety kicks in, and it is very difficult to replace that anxiety with calm. PTS is quite inconvenient. But I discovered something about that PTS, and that discovery came about as a result of a question a prayer partner once asked me. I discovered that when I am tired, it is as if I’ve left a door open for that PTS to sneak in and take over. So the key is to stay in balance and be well rested. And I am lucky because in addition to not remembering the past much, I’m also disciplined. I go to bed at the same general time every evening, and get up at the same general time every morning. And on those nights when sleep is a bit elusive, I allow myself to sleep in. I get up every morning and do the same thing: I meditate, contemplate and study. I’ve been doing this for over 30 years. Such a disciplined spiritual practice is another gift. I say it’s a gift, but really, it wasn’t given to me. I developed it. It just feels like a gift now. The other thing in my life that is truly a gift is my intensity. Yes, I realize this intensity scares people and they tend to go away behind that fear. I’m ok with that, because that intensity has served to allow me to be extraordinarily successful at any endeavor I undertake. I take a deep dive into everything I do, whether it is cooking or gardening or a career. Skimming the surface of anything simply isn’t on my list of things to do. I was reminded of all of this as I reviewed my memories for today. Going backwards, there are springtime activities, ministerial activities, school activities, photography activities. With horseback riding interspersed throughout. A nice little snapshot. And then there is today. As people are settling in to sheltering in place, I am beginning to witness in my work all sorts of feelings: boredom, anxiety, confusion, anger. And then there are the ones who are gleefully taking advantage of the time. They are getting projects done around the house and beginning to experience what it is like to not be rushing around all the time doing stuff. They are beginning to experience what it is like to simply be, rather than to do. I believe this to be another gift. Beingness is, or can be, a foundation from which we move forward into the world doing. If we begin with beingness, we then discover who we be as people. We discover what our feelings are. We discover what the trend of our thinking is, whether it is positive or negative. We discover whether that is acceptable to us, and begin to wonder if we can change it if it isn’t. We might even begin to discover what our values and beliefs are. And change those if we wish. Because really, this time is an unprecedented opportunity for us to cultivate a nice little practice of contemplation and inner exploration, to get to know ourselves, and our Selves. We have the opportunity to change the world right now. Because we have the opportunity to change ourselves, and that is where change begins. So the affirmation for today is this: Today I gratefully accept the gift of being rather than doing, and I experience peace and calm as a result.